Various Music from the Motion Picture I'm Not There

Unlike many Bob Dylan tribute albums, I’m Not There works on many levels. Just as Todd Haynes’s unconventional film is a compilation, employing several actors to play Dylan at various stages of his life, the film’s soundtrack is a rare gathering of endearing Dylan interpretations. Furthermore, its title stems from an obscure song derived from Dylan and the Band’s infamous Basement Tapes sessions, a period where they themselves paid tribute to music made by renegades from generations past. Mostly faithful but occasionally irreverent, the renditions here are captivating. Two house bands emerge — Calexico are the closest thing to the Band going these days and they are as perfect for Jim James on "Goin’ to Acapulco” as they are behind Willie Nelson on "Senor (Tales of Yankee Power).” Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley, guitarists Nels Cline, Tom Verlaine and Smokey Hormel, organist John Medeski and long-serving Dylan bassist Tony Garnier are the Million Dollar Bashers, who back up Eddie Vedder, Stephen Malkmus and Karen O with equal panache. Similarly, Sufjan Stevens, Jeff Tweedy, Cat Power, Yo La Tengo and Los Lobos provide highlights on this inspired take on some of Dylan’s most vital work. (Columbia)